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Athletics a place where returns justify huge investment

by | Jul 29, 2015 | Sports

By Greg Ford

Today we’re going to have a discussion on cost-benefit ratio. Too boring?

OK, how about risk-reward? Sound a little more interesting?

Well, use either word duo you want, because they each apply to today’s subject: athletic costs. Specifically, how much money can parents spend for their children to play sports, and what other costs are associated with it.

Also, what are the benefits and rewards of such investments, and when can the investor — the parents in this case — see them?

One “investor” who has seen a lot of cash get doled out is Cherie Naudin of Princeton, the mother of a son and two daughters, each of whom played sports at the interscholastic level, as well as with club or travel teams; it’s the latter where money and time really come into play.

In Naudin’s case, she had one daughter in soccer; another in softball and her son was a baseball player. By the time the family was done paying to participate in non-school leagues, somewhere more than $200,000 was likely spent over the course of a decade or so.

“It takes a lot of time,” Naudin said. “It can be a full-time lifestyle.”

Was it worth it? You bet, Naudin said.

First, not only did her children get the chance to play and perform, they also received more exposure than they would have just playing high school ball. In the case of one daughter, Chele, soccer took her around the nation where she was in front of thousands of coaches and scouts.

The result was a scholarship to the University of Central Arkansas, where she is a junior, and a spot on the Mexican national team. Her sister Chanin also benefitted, as she played softball at the University of Kansas.

Besides earning college scholarships, the Naudin sisters, as well as their brother Nick, learned the value of responsibility, and were able to visit places they might otherwise never had the chance to see, their mother said.

My colleague, sports writer David Jenkins, has spent close to $2,000 so his son Clayton, 7, could play baseball, flag football and now tackle football. Again the benefits were worth the cost.

“It’s actually helped me bond with him, because I like football,” Jenkins said.

He also said Clayton has developed friendships he might not have otherwise while playing those sports.

Benefits also can be found in smaller-profile competitions, such as rodeo. Many years ago, one of my colleagues, Joe Reavis, watched as his son Brady, then about 6 years old, took part in “ranch rodeo.” In that particular sport, competitors took part in “non-bucking” events such as penning steers and goat branding (done with chalk on a stick or sock). Overall, the cost was close to $4,000, including buying a trailer, saddle, bridle and a pony for his son. The latter was an older equine, Reavis noted.

“The best thing for a young rider is an old horse,” he said.

Reavis added, “He enjoyed all of it except the traveling.”

During the one year in rodeo, Brady developed responsibility, Reavis said, and learned skills that would prove beneficial later on.

“He actually learned how to pen cattle,” Reavis said.

That’s a pretty good return on an investment.

Greg Ford is the sports editor for C&S Media, Inc.

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